"Disclaimer: I received a complimentary race entry for the Hot Chocolate 15k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"
This was my 3rd hot chocolate race. I ran Hot Chocolate 15k here in Scottsdale the first year they offered it, back in 2012. I have missed it the last few years, so I was looking forward to doing it again. I also ran the 15k in Las Vegas this spring.
As many of you know, I had knee surgery in October for a torn meniscus. As the date drew closer, I knew that 15k was going to be too much too soon. I was able to drop to the 5k. They told me just to take care of the switch at packet pickup.
One cool thing about Hot Chocolate series is that they actually send you a training plan each week via email! With your entry you also got a logo jacket which is pretty warm, a chocolate finishers mug, and the 15k folks get a nice medal. More about that later.
The location for the Hot Chocolate race is Salt River Fields, where the Arizona Diamondbacks call home for spring training. It’s a nice area, but a little out of the way in terms of racing. Packet pickup was held there too, on Friday and Saturday. No same day pickup was advertised. You could also opt to have your packet mailed to you for an extra fee. I went on Friday afternoon, which was pretty easy – as long as you were carpooling! We breezed through traffic, luckily. Packet pickup took place on the concourse of the ballpark. There were booths from other local races, Ragnar, as well as Hot Chocolate merchandise for sale.
Pickup was pretty easy, there were lines at times but they moved FAST. When I got to pickup and told them I needed to switch to the 5k they sent me over to the Information Services booth. When I showed up there, they said no, you just wear your normal 15k bib and show up at the 5k start line. So back in line I went. A little frustrating to say the least.
They were handing out samples of chocolate and hot chocolate, which was tasty!
On race morning, we drove up there nice and early, knowing would be a fiasco later. There were over 8,000 people participating in these 2 races! It got crowded and it was chilly (about 45 degrees which is cold for AZ!) Luckily we all had those nice jackets from the race! While we waited for the start of the 5k, there were warm up dancers but nothing else really going on. I couldn’t find any water available. There were 5 corrals for the 5k.
The course for the 5k was flat and basically a loop through an office park. With 5,000 doing the 5k, it was quite crowded the whole time. Even though strollers weren’t allowed, I saw several. There was one “sweet stop” for the 5k folks – strawberry marshmallows – around the half way point. Then, at the finish, the cruelest thing – the racks of medals were there FOR THE 15K RUNNERS ONLY – so it was just there to tease the rest of us! I do hope they will consider some small medal for the 5k folks next time. It was a disappointment to many.
Ok the consolation prize was the finishers mug that we had all been dreaming about for the last 3 miles. It was a cup of hot chocolate, pretzels, a banana, a marshmallow, 2 chocolate pirouette cookies and some chocolate fondue for dipping. I actually really enjoyed this part, although it was pretty messy. Then I decided to get in line to have my picture taken with my happy marshmallow friends. They offer free race photos for download, but unfortunately there were none of me! L
Bottom line, this is a huge local race, with no big competing race in the area the same weekend. Everyone was happy and enjoying their chocolate. Seating areas would have been welcomed, everyone was sitting on curbs in the parking lot trying to eat their chocolate. I watched the 15k finishers come in and they all seemed like it was a challenge, with a sweet payoff at the finish! I saw so many local running friends here. I would definitely recommend this race to anyone, for a fun experience. If you want to read more about the 15k, check out my fellow BibRavePro Justin’s review here. Interested in doing Hot Chocolate 15k? Look for a Hot Chocolate race near you!
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!